While some are cared for by extended family, others are taking care of each other, with no adults to support or help them, simply because their extended families are already overwhelmed by the number of children in their care.
Sustainable development projects that support orphans and vulnerable children are critical, offering these children hope, helping them meet their short-term needs, and helping them become contributing members of their communities in the long term.
Six-year-old Bereket Tewdros is just one of these many children. Bereket lives with an older woman who took him in when his mother died of HIV. Five of his caregiver’s orphaned grandchildren also live with them. Traumatized by his mother’s death, Bereket does not eat and often cries. He lives in poverty and may not be able to attend primary school. For Bereket, living in destitution is a daily state and there is no sign that it will end unless someone steps in to help.
It is important to implement programs that get money into the hands of the caretakers of these children.
There are 80,000 orphans and vulnerable children just in the Afar Region—6% of the population. They have no one to protect or guide them and are at risk for abuse and exploitation.
Helping Ethiopian Children
Building and equipping schools is a key strategy for supporting the children of Ethiopia. But for those who are destitute because their parents have died or, in some cases, abandoned them due to traditional ideas about having children out of wedlock or other reasons, attending these schools may not even be possible.
In such cases, it is important to implement programs that get money into the hands of the caretakers of these children. For example, in the community of Kuriftu, there are many orphaned children due to the high rate of HIV/AIDS.
Save Generation Development Association (formerly Sageda Development Association) had been providing about $10 per month per orphaned child—barely enough for food or shelter. Some children supplement this by, for example, collecting sticks for fuel and selling them before they go to school in the morning. This makes for a long, hard day, making it difficult to keep up in school. The physical toil and challenges of poverty are only made worse when a child has no family and feels alone. But at least there was some money coming in through the development group. When funds ran out, Rainbow for the Future took on the project to support 60 children per year and will be rehabilitating the primary school for all children.